Walk this way: Tourists walk past riot policemen at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok in late November. The tensions continue.

Walk this way: Tourists walk past riot policemen at Dusit Zoo in Bangkok in late November. The tensions continue. Photo: Reuters

Bangkok: A couple of million visitors are expected to fly to Thailand in the coming weeks, the peak of the tourist season in the country that has for years been one of the most popular destinations for travelling Australians.

The political situation in the capital has become highly volatile and bizarre, raising the question: should tourists still come here for their holiday?

Protesters fighting to destroy a democratically-elected government have declared their own parallel government and have begun issuing audacious orders.

Revolt: Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally outside Government House on Tuesday.

Revolt: Anti-government protesters shout slogans during a rally outside Government House on Tuesday. Photo: AP

Order number one: Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her “cronies” be prosecuted for treason.

Order number two: the Royal Thai Police withdraw from protecting government buildings to their barracks.

“The military is asked to deploy for security purposes at state offices instead,” says protest leader Suthep Thaugsuban, a former deputy prime minister who has been charged with treason but not yet arrested and faces a possible death sentence if convicted.

Anti-government demonstrations have been growing in Bangkok in recent weeks after a blunder by Ms Yingluck’s party when it introduced an amnesty bill to Parliament that would have whitewashed the crimes of her billionaire brother Thaksin Shinawatra, who lives in Dubai, to avoid a two-year jail sentence for corruption (he insists the charges were politically motivated).

The bill was withdrawn amid widespread anger but anti-government forces announced they just didn’t want to topple the government but also to eradicate the Shinawatra clan from politics forever.

Ms Yingluck, the country’s first female prime minister, has dissolved Parliament and called fresh elections for February 2, two-and-a-half years into a four-year term.

“I am not without feelings. I have heard their calls,” she said on Tuesday, fighting back tears as she was asked about protester demands to leave the country.

“Will there be no place for me here? Is this what is going to happen?”

Almost two weeks ago the street protests turned to bloodletting, leaving five people dead and scores injured with running street battles erupting between police and protesters.

In the past few days protesters have shown restraint and there has been no violence but tensions remain high amid a stalemate that has paralysed decision-making in the country of 64 million people.

The military, which has intervened in Thai politics many times in the past, is staying in the barracks for now at least, as its commanders try to broker talks between the protagonists. 

A drop in the number of tourist arrivals would be a significant hit on Thailand's  finances: tourism accounts for almost 10 per cent of the national budget.

In Bangkok’s Sukhumvit Road tourist precinct where I live, tourists - many of them Australians - are already packing restaurants and clubs, seemingly oblivious to the strife across town in the historic quarter around Government House and the Prime Minister’s offices.

When my friends call to ask my advice on whether they should cancel their holidays to Thailand I tell them it is a personal decision but if they do come they should keep monitoring developments and stay away from protests.

Thais have not targeted foreigners, who will be safe in this country’s wonderful beach and hillside resorts.

There is also a saying among Asian hands that when things look the most dire, when there seems to be no way out of difficulty, countries in this region find a way to muddle through somehow.

Those of us who love Thailand hope it will be the same this time, although nobody seems to have a clue how.